The Foundation has done significant work in the field of education for 11 years. It has collaborated with the government in different States of India with programs in curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, school management, teacher education, it has run two schools for the children of migrant labour and has worked with the community. Further, it is committed to expanding its role in Education along with allied Development domains adding new dimensions to its vision.
Two basic implementation frameworks that follow this vision are: First, the strategy of creating new talent and transformation of talent already working in the field (government and non-government) with the Azim Premji University and State & District Institutes. Second, creation of pressure and strong demand for high quality education with Azim Premji State & District Institutes, Institute for Assessment and Accreditation, Communication and Engagement with stakeholders and networking of partners.
It is in this context, that a limited number of demonstration schools are being established for the specific and limited purposes of providing learning spaces for the University, the Institute for Assessment and Accreditation (IAA), State and District Institutes and supporting specific elements of the Foundation’s strategy and as “exemplars” in those specific areas.
Demonstration schools provide good quality education at costs and constraints similar to that of rural government schools. Apart from providing learning spaces for other Foundation Units, demonstration of good quality education at reasonable cost and with the presence of external influencing factors will contribute to groundswell of demand for quality.
Our Demonstration Schools provide the opportunity to strengthen the theory practice linkage. It gives a purpose to experiment, to plan, implement and tackle some core issues or problems that mark our education system, all in the context of larger challenges that India faces. It enriches the learning of the Foundation on School Education. These schools are not intended to supplant or supplement the Government school system in any way – but to help in local capacity building and awareness creation for “quality education”.
Our first set of schools began operations in mid-2012 and are located in the following states (districts): Uttarakhand (Uddhamsinghnagar, Uttarkashi), Rajasthan (Tonk, Sirohi), Karnataka (Yadgir) and Chattisgarh (Dhamtari). 50 such schools are planned to be established by 2016.
The Constitution along with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, National Policy of Education, State Policies, National Curriculum Framework; Azim Premji Foundation and its vision, values, strategies, research and thought guide the School all through the way from conceptualizing ideas to planning and implementing frameworks.
Our schools reflect the understanding of the importance of education as one of the most powerful vehicles of social transformation. Education, especially in this context is seen as a process of human interaction and not just as a set of techniques. An environment of opportunities, respect and dignity is provided to all in the school and is reflected in policies, working conditions, school culture and practice. There is care, tolerance and sensitivity for diversities.
We see our schools as places where a child can be herself; a place that is her “own;” where she can enjoy and challenge herself; a place where she is safe, cherished and valued. We hope to start a process of learning which our children can possibly continue for the rest of their lives.
The State Curriculum is followed with a variety of resources for enriching learning experience. The Curriculum allows children to develop an interest in and understanding of the world around them, nurture the ability to analyze, reflect and communicate, build capacity for caring relationships, appreciation of arts and aesthetics, build life skills, attitude and responsibility towards work and facilitate livelihood in future. An integrated approach will ensure that all forms of knowledge, perspective, and values have an equal place.
The Pedagogy is learner centered enabling conceptual clarity with active learning process. Children are encouraged to think, ask questions and explore, discuss issues, problems, share experiences, make choices and develop courage to think differently.
Support is provided to every child to learn and pursue knowledge at one’s own pace; interest, capabilities and learning styles. This flexibility is structured considering realities of the existing educational system along with regular assessment measures to map effectiveness and achievement.
The methods used for assessment are learner friendly, encouraging students to assess themselves, to determine the achievement of curricular objectives, track the progress of child in different areas of learning over time, identify areas where support is required, provide feedback to learners and encourage sense of accomplishment
Strict guidelines ensure that there is no use of fear as it is detrimental to learning, memorization is not the primary form of learning or assessment, assessment is not an intimidating process that involves the labeling and segregation of students, children are not be treated as passive receivers of information and school processes are designed such that they do not lead to boredom and monotonous routines and rituals.
Physical environment, architecture and infrastructure of the schools along with materials and resources, are committed to quality in learning, safety, security, comfort and care to all children to learn, grow and develop with equal concern for sustainability. There are provisions for safe drinking water; separate, clean and functional toilets for boys and girls. Meals are provided to all children based on their nutritional requirements.
Medium of instruction is the local /state language at primary level and English will be gradually introduced at subsequent stages.
The emphasis is on doing the basics well like learning to read and write; and ensuring that children are not only enrolled but retained well, attend school regularly, learn and complete school.